In the closest vote total in the 2015 Eclipse Awards’ equine categories, La Verdad edged her Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) conqueror, Wavell Avenue, by a 98-90 margin. An earlier victory over Wavell Avenue in the Gallant Bloom H. (G2), combined with a beefier resume, seemingly swung a plurality of the deeply divided electorate in La Verdad’s direction.
A winner of the Distaff H. (G2) as well as four New York-bred stakes in 2014, La Verdad commenced her championship campaign on April 18 with a 5 1/4-length title defense of the Distaff at Aqueduct. She continued to show her blazing speed to positive effect at Belmont Park in the May 16 Vagrancy H. (G3), which she won by a diminishing half-length, and the $100,000 Dancin Renee for New York-breds on June 18, when she romped by more than seven lengths.
The first-place finishes continued for La Verdad’s next three outings, although her four-length victory in the July 29 Honorable Miss H. (G2) at Saratoga, a field that included 2014 divisional champion Judy the Beauty, was eventually overturned after she tested positive for clenbuterol. By the time that disqualification was made official, La Verdad had already added wins in the September 26 Gallant Bloom and $150,000 Iroquois, for New York-breds on October 24, both at Belmont.
The Gallant Bloom decision, a narrow half-length over the improving Wavell Avenue going 6 1/2 furlongs, did little to alter the conventional wisdom that La Verdad might be suspect over the Breeders’ Cup seven-furlong distance. Sent to post at 6-1 in the October 31 feature at Keeneland, La Verdad held a narrow advantage most of the way but was overtaken late by Wavell Avenue. The eventual champion settled for second, 1 3/4 lengths behind the winner.
With the Breeders’ Cup being Wavell Avenue’s only significant win, and their head-to-head record split, La Verdad was given a chance to pad her credentials with a jaunt against males in the the Fall Highweight H. (G3) at Aqueduct on Thanksgiving Day. A dispiriting seventh in the 2014 Fall Highweight, La Verdad did only marginally better in her 2015 swan song, finishing sixth after failing to make the lead. La Verdad completed 2015 with a mark of 8-5-1-0, $722,500.
La Verdad, now six, opened her 2016 account with 2 3/4-length score in the $100,000 Interborough at Aqueduct on January 9. She is expected to race once more, in the $300,000 Barbara Fritchie (G2) at Laurel on February 13, before she is retired and bred to Medaglia d’Oro.
Owned by Sheila Rosenblum’s Lady Sheila Stable, La Verdad is trained by Linda Rice and was ridden throughout 2015 by Jose Ortiz. The daughter of Yes It’s True and the Hook and Ladder mare Noble Fire was bred by Eklektikos Stable. Her career record currently stands at 25-16-3-0, $1,563,200.
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(Adam Coglianese Photography)